The Bone Mother has a secret: her cave-womb-tomb is not a desolate or frightening place: it is a Garden of Abundance!
Halfway through pandemic year 2020 I had a dream where my own ribcage became a boat. It was taking me on my Final Journey, to the Land of the Ancestors.
<< On the Shore of the Ocean of Eternity a Bone Harp plays its startling music, plucked by the Wind. The Souls of the Dead whisper to us on this breeze.
The Bone Mother is exactly that: a Mother. Her Cave is the Womb-Tomb where all life forms return at their Journey's end. Where the Dead receive compassionate cradling and the Living learn to re-member (literally meaning: to put all limbs back together!)
This is the place where go to re-birth ourselves. She lifts the mantle of false burdens and injurious projections. We all carry so much weight on behalf of others - and often we don't even realize it...
Halfway through pandemic year 2020 The Bone Mother started appearing in my paintings. She presided over an on-line sacred art retreat I taught. Once the retreat ended, she would not leave. She demanded no less than a wholehearted plunge into Sacred Darkness. A cancellation of all plans and expectations.
As the Winter Goddess arrived, I started dreaming of bones and dismemberments even more intensely. In one dream a community of bears dismembered me and proceeded to make musical instruments from all my bones. My one task was to surrender and listen to the eerie, other-wordly music.
We die so many times before we actually die. We die the smaller deaths of loss, grief, abandonment, rejection and betrayal - before we actually cross over. As I grow older (and hopefully a little wiser along the way) I am learning to embrace those smaller deaths as intense training sessions for the ultimate event.
When I die, I trust that this eerie music will show me the way home as I enter the Land of the Ancestors.
Mid 2020 I had a profound visionary experience: all the molecules that make up my body were dancing before my eyes and communicating with me. They showed me that one day, they wish to continue their own journey. Blood ultimately wants to be water again and bones become stones. The substances that make up my body want to be trees, mushrooms, clouds, hills, animals.... one day.
In that moment I understand what an utterly precious gift this human body is and how countless other 'beings' entered a sacred bond (of marriage) to 'hold me together in physical form' until the day my soul transitions and crosses the veil between worlds. I realized how beautiful the larger cycle is - and an incredible level of acceptance came over me. One day I will die but for now there is living to be done, and a tending of this incredible human vessel.
My White Mother (a Beluga Whale) gives birth to my new self, so I can swim out into the world as changed (and healed) person. And yes, some of you guessed right, I am a Pisces!
This is a mysterious painting, even for me, the painter! No further explanations...
Inspired by a dream where I was shown (and reminded) how we all have Animal Ancestors, as well as Human Ancestors, and our natural body shape will often reflect this.People who belong to The Whale Clan are not naturally skinny.
(Not that I wish to divebomb the diet industry obviously, as so many people put bread on their own table by means of encouraging others to self-starve! But it is a perspective nevertheless... piece of 'visual activism'!)
I invite you to watch my art video
Many spiritual traditions call the human body a Temple. It has taken me 50 years to this planet to fully comprehend the truth of this teaching! The Tzeltal Maya people take this concept a few steps further. They believe that the human bodies and the bodies of animals they hunted have a so called Resurrection Bone. This bone is part of the pelvis and it often the last bone to survive when a body is unearthed long after burial.
Tribal hunters believed that that from residual essence here a person will be reborn after death. This is why they often carved the sacrum of animals they hunted. Ritual care for this bone ensured success in the hunt and carry favor with the gods.
They also believed that the human body has loci (places) of transformative power. This means that we can access the cosmos, powerful gods, ancestors and other worlds using portals in our own body.
Core shamanism teaches that we all have a power animal (or even several). The Old Norse Tradition teaches that we human beings have fylgja, literally "a following spirit" or follower (but not in the 21st century sense of a follower on social media!)
The fylgja reportedly takes two forms: it can appear as a woman or take the shape of an animal. Families, clans or tribes have a 'Clan Follower': the Kinfylgja, who watches over the collective. Most people cannot see the fylgja (unless they have the gift of second sight). However, often there are reported sightings of a person's fylgja just before they die.
During the pandemic new animal powers (or animal spirits) have come forward to guide me and work with me. One is Snowy Owl and another is my White Mother (A Beluga Whale, usually accompanied by her calf).
We are still getting to know each other but I value their presence and guidance immensely...
One of my many faults is that I do things too fast: I talk too fast, I speed-type, as a mother working from home I multi-task incessantly and I sometimes jump to conclusions.
For me the pandemic has brought a period of being becalmed. I managed to overwork my way through nine of months of Lockdown (due to asthma and respiratory issues I have been self-isolating even when I did not have to). In early December I had the wake-up call: nine months is the duration of a pregnancy!!
I don't want Lockdown to end without having enjoyed any sense of "more time" reported by many people around me (not frontline workers!) I suppose I really bought into the notion of 'myself as a spiritual key worker' and, one December day, decided to release that.
After teaching a 4-day intensive (on-line) sacred art retreat dedicated to The Bone Mother - I plummeted into her Cave-Tomb-Womb. At the time of writing (January 14th, 2021) I am only just starting to paint my way out of this place of Sacred Darkness. As one long-term student asked me this morning: when will you start fleshing out the bones?! The answer is: I don't know, for once I am not in charge of the timing...
There is a mysterious point where Ancestors and Unborn Children are one....
It was inspired by an Old European belief held by Norse and Germanic peoples that trees, and the primordial dense forests which once covered much of Europe, were profoundly sacred because the souls of dead ancestors were believed to dwell in trees.
There were prohibitions (and also a lot of superstition) around the cutting down of trees - because there was a real fear of "making our ancestors homeless" and "displaced" (and without the support of our ancestors, we are nowhere!)
In the Northern Tradition (as in most other traditions I would guess) there is a strong connection between ancestors and fertility - they often act as Guardians of the Land.
In a recent dream I saw how the souls of Ancestors stayed engaged in the great Cycle of Birth - Death - Rebirth by guarding the souls of babies about to be born, and also by reincarnating (which I saw as leaves dropping of those trees and becoming seeds for new life germinating in the ground). I married this vision to another recent dream where I was in a Dark Forest where all the trees were fish skeletons - linking all humans to the Primordial Waters.
If we took on board this profound ancestral wisdom teaching we could not possibly engage in the mass logging of rainforests (and so forth) that is decimating animal species and affecting both air and soil quality (and much else).
Carving and painting bones in My Forest Studio brings me face to face with my own death. In one recent vision the bones of my skeleton became the silver birch trees they have always been and my hair became lichen. It felt deeply comforting and reassuring.
This painting is mysterious and it shows that I am a native of Pisces!
'To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.'
THE BARE BONES (60 x 42 cm) £245